Making connections ...
This issue, which is focused on ecology, reflects those characteristics and offers models for and examples of activities and laboratories that can be used in a variety of classes. The activities anticipate the needs of teachers preparing for the Next Generation Science Standards by immersing students in science practices as they plan and conduct investigations in the lab or field. This issue also illustrates another characteristic of ecology, a fundamental one that students should learn quite early--interconnectedness. Scanning the titles in the table of contents immediately brought this to mind in several ways. Besides the scientific interconnections that are the study of ecology, I found a personal connection to almost every article. Growing up in a fifth-floor apartment and attending an urban university, watching squirrels collecting nuts was an enjoyable "field work" experience for this future ethologist (I still stop to watch them). My introductory biology instructor was involved in biological control research (ichneumon wasp parasitoids of aphids; Sullivan, 1972), and I learned much of my ecology and behavior from related examples. He also provided me my first experience with laboratory research and a hint of what earning a doctorate would entail. My wife earned her doctorate studying RNA polymerase from wheat germ, and perfecting techniques to extract DNA from wheat germ was a graduate-level inquiry experience back then. When I joined Oklahoma State University, my office was next to the lab that was developing the FETAX assay (Bantle & Sabourin, 1991) for use in ecotoxicological testing, which forms the basis for one of the exercises described in this issue. Two of my colleagues conduct research involving honey bee behavior and ecology at very different scales (Abramson et al., 1996, 2010; Baum et al., 2011) and share a talent for mentoring undergraduates and conducting outreach. I remember learning about the ink-following behavior of termites during a conversation with a friend and co-investigator while I was observing his science methods class so that I could learn about pre-service teacher education. I fondly recall sampling stream invertebrates in my undergraduate ecology and graduate aquatic entomology and limnology classes, and I appreciate the investigation in this issue that describes an approach that makes an inquiry experience with benthic invertebrates more accessible to students.
My personal experiences do not make these articles better, nor are they why they appear in this issue. These articles were selected for their quality and relevance to our readers in blind reviews. However, thinking about my connections to these articles reminds me of how we all share a variety of relationships not only with our environment, but also with our colleagues and members of this association. Such relationships help us grow professionally, promote the exchange of ideas, and reach consensus on what is excellence. Relating experiences also helps us engage and instruct our students. Herreid (1997/1998) describes teachers as storytellers and suggests that the best case studies are ones that tell a story and are personalized so as to connect to the reader. For many, seeing their science teachers as people and building a rapport with them plays a role in breaking down barriers and increasing their interest in pursuing success and retention in the sciences. This is also true for mentoring (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2006), where failure to build relationships can lead to attrition from the sciences, especially for those groups underrepresented in particular science disciplines (Johnson, 2007). On the other hand, engaging students in research in a collegial environment contributes to students' interest and retention in sciences.
So take the time to read and enjoy this issue, adapt and adopt the techniques described, share your thoughts with a colleague (or an author), and help build the connections for you and your students.
Abramson, CL, Nolf, S.L, Mixson, T.A. & Wells, H. (2010). can honey bees learn the removal of a stimulus as a conditioning cue? Ethology, 116, 843-854.
Abramson, C.I., Onstott, T., Edwards, S. & Bowe, K. (1996). Classical-conditioning demonstrations for elementary and advanced courses. Teaching of Psychology, 23, 26-30.
Bantle, J.A. & Sabourin, T.D. (1991). Standard guide for conducting the frog embryo teratogenesis assay-Xenopus (FETAX). American Society for Testing and Materials E1439-91.
Baum, K.A., Kolodziej, E.Y., Tchakerian, M.D., Birt, A.G., Sherman, M. & Coulson, R.N. (2011). Spatial distribution of Africanized honey bees in an urban landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning, 100, 153-162.
Herreid, C.F. (1997/1998). What makes a good case? Journal of College Science Teaching, 27, 163-165.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute. (2006). Making the Right Moves: A Practical Guide to Scientific Management for Postdocs and New Faculty, 2nd Ed. [Online.] Available at http://www.hhmi.org/resources/labmanagement/mtrmoves_download.html.
Johnson, A.C. (2007). Unintended consequences: how science professors discourage women of color. Science Education, 91, 805-821.
Sullivan, D.J. (1972). Comparative behavior and competition between two aphid hyperparasites: Alloxysta victrix and Asaphes californicus (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae; Pteromalidae). Environmental Entomology, 1, 234-244.
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|Title Annotation:||From the President|
|Publication:||The American Biology Teacher|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2012|
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